NTUC First Campus – It Began With You

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A generation ago, most mothers of young children spent their days at home with their children. Today, nearly two-thirds of mothers with young children are working full-time. Thus, the need for quality childcare and pre-schools has risen over the past few years.

I’m sure it’s every parent’s nightmare when their children started pre-school. For us, it was a complete meltdown – for me as well as my son. On his first school day, I put on a brave front when I waved goodbye to him. But the moment I was out of sight, he started bawling. I peeped at him from the classroom window and my heart was torn into pieces. I was sobbing like a girl who has just lost her favourite stuffed animal. I’m sure many of you have experienced this before.

Edison’s first pre-school teacher was Ms. Wong. She is the most loving, patient and dedicated teacher that I’ve seen in my entire life! She would carry him around, comfort him, and made him feel loved and secured. She trained him to be independent at an early age, from self-feeding to visiting the toilet and making new friends. She also developed a love for learning in him.

I have a lot of respect for her and all the teachers in his school. Handling a bunch of young children is a true challenge. Edison was not the only crying baby in the class, there were also a handful of them. If I were the teacher, I could have gone crazy!

That’s why I always admire pre-school teachers who have endless amount of love and patience to teach and care for young children every day. This year, Edison is completing his last year of pre-school. I’m always grateful and appreciative to all his teachers for taking great care of him, and shower him with tender loving care during his four years in pre-school.

NTUC First Campus

Back to the topic of pre-school, I’m sure you’ve heard of NTUC First Campus (NFC). It is the pioneer childcare operator in Singapore since 1970s, and it manages three pre-school brands – My First Skool, The Little Skool-House International and The Caterpillar’s Cove.

With 120 centres island wide, NTUC First Campus believes that every child deserves a good start in life. Its social mission is to ensure that every child, regardless of social and economic background, can receive quality and affordable early childhood care and education.

NTUC First Campus also realizes the importance in establishing the best support network and career advancement opportunities for their staffs. Both new and current teachers can develop their knowledge and skills in NFC’s tailored training programs, as well as learning the best practices in their regular meetings and forums.

With the rising need for quality childcare in Singapore, NTUC First Campus has also kicks off their social recruitment campaign to promote the appreciation for pre-school teachers, and to encourage more aspiring individuals to join the early childhood education industry.

“It Began With You”

Now, let me ask you a simple question. Do you know why children do the things that they do? Here’s a video that all of us should watch. You’ll get the answer here.

Inspiring, isn’t it?

Academic performance may be a direct indicator of how well our children did at school, but the core values that they learned from their pre-school teachers are far more important, and it usually takes longer time for us to observe in our children.

Being a pre-school teacher is certainly a great and fulfilling job, but definitely not an easy one. If you love children and are willing to take up the challenges to inspire young lives, step forward and send them your resume now. You can find out more details about NFC careers and positions available from their website and Facebook Page.

Last but not least, I like to invite you to take up the challenge to find out if you have what it takes to be a pre-school teacher.

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Click on this [button url=”http://synad2.nuffnang.com.sg/nn_gtrack.php?click&gid=13547″]BUTTON[/button] to start the quiz!

Join this contest and stand a chance to win $50 CapitaMall vouchers every week! You might also be the lucky one to walk away with a Travel Package worth $1500 in the Grand Lucky Draw!

Oh, what am I waiting for? I’m going to try it now!

For Facebook user, you can access the contest HERE. Otherwise, you can also participate in their microsite HERE.

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If you’re using Facebook, you need to “Like” the page first before you start the game. There are TEN fun and challenging questions to answer (multiple choice questions). Don’t worry, it will not take you more than 5 minutes and it’s really FUN!

Want to know my score? Nah! I got 28 points and an “I’ve Got What It Takes” grade. Haha, so proud of myself! If you have a pre-school child, you’ll likely know all the answers too.

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When you’ve completed the game, you can invite your friends to join or simply share it on your Facebook wall. Just like this –

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Have FUN!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Nuffnang. All opinions are honest and are my own.

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Parent-Teacher Meeting – May 2013

Parent-Teacher Meeting

Before the Jun holiday began, I attended the parent-teacher meeting at Little Edison’s school. I can’t believe how quickly two terms have come and gone. He has completed half a year in K2, and that is to say, he will be entering Primary One in six months’ time.

Argh! Primary One. The term itself never fails to send jitters to me.

As usual, I attended the parent-teacher meeting with average expectations. I know that Little Edison is not doing very well in Chinese, and he’s also resistant to speak the language at school. I’m also under the impression that other kids are doing fairly well based on their works that were displayed in their class room.

This year, the hardest thing that we encountered is Chinese spelling. We struggled a lot in the first term, getting him to learn his Chinese spelling. The Chinese spelling is conducted every Friday. So from Monday till Thursday, we have to practice daily and this sometimes leads to his meltdown when he still couldn’t remember the words.

I keep encouraging him that he should try his best to learn Chinese spelling, even though I’m not expecting him to get perfect scores all the time. Much to my surprise, he got full marks for all the ten spelling tests in Term 2.

His teacher, Mrs. Lee, informed me that he’s doing reasonably well in English and Maths, and she has no complaints about his behaviour in class. However, the main observation that she has on him is that he likes to ‘day-dream’ in his class.

I admit it, this is not the first time I heard about such comment about him. He has rather short attention span, which is why his teacher always asked him to sit at the front (near the white board) when they are in a group setting.

For the past three years, the teachers presented his progress reports to me in hardcopies. The reports contain pictures, sample worksheets, development checklists and evaluation reports. This year, the school has developed an online system for the teachers to upload the materials so that the parents can view them on the web.

I must say that I’m very impressed with the system. It takes a huge amount of efforts to upload the materials onto the online system to share with the parents. I’m also very thankful for the guidance and care that the teachers have given to him. The kindergarten is well run, and it has a very positive and friendly learning environment.

I’ve decided to give him a reward for his good behaviour at school and his hard works. He asked for a trampoline, and I had to say YES. So, my task this weekend is to search for a trampoline for him.

The New Kindergarten Curriculum Framework

kindergarten

Finally, I saw what I wanted to see – the new kindergarten curriculum framework released by the MOE recently.

If you’re a kindergarten parent, I’m sure at some point, you’ll wonder how much should you prepare your children for Primary One. There is no national curriculum for kindergarten, and all pre-school programs vary from operator to operator.

When I first read about this kindergarten framework, I was so excited. I dislike reading from my computer’s screen, so I printed it out. When I picked it up from my printer, I was surprised that it contains 125 pages! Luckily, I’ve set my printer to print 2 pages per sheet and double-sided. So, it’s just 32 sheets for me to read. So, please be warned if you wish to print it.

Good or bad, kindergarten lessons today are a far cry from the kindergarten activities a few decades ago. Today, our kindergarteners are spending less time on play and more time on academic pursuits such as reading, writing and maths. Many kindergartens are operating full-day, rather than the previous norm of half-day. And also, many kindergarteners get homework, sometimes even on daily basis.

I can still remember my kindergarten school days. We had a lot of class activities like arts and crafts, singing, dancing and performances. We didn’t have homework, we didn’t learn phonics, and we didn’t do any maths either. Okay, maybe a little bit of maths but I’m sure it’s not more than ten. No spelling tests, that’s for sure.

Personally, I dislike kindergartens that are too academic-focused or with excessive homework. It’s a nightmare for me if Edison comes home with a folder full of photocopied worksheets for homework every day. Or worst of all, a whole long list of words for spelling test or dictation.

Imagine a working mother like me – by the time I reached home, had dinner, showered and packed-up for tomorrow, it’s already 8:30pm. There is only 1 hour left before the boy goes to bed. I certainly don’t want to spend this one hour pushing him to do his homework.

I have my own worksheets and materials to teach him at night, to supplement what he is learning at school. We’ll usually spend half an hour doing these worksheets, and the other half to read a book or revise on the lessons from his enrichment classes.

But don’t get me wrong. Homework is okay, but as with all things, moderation is the key. In my point of view, kindergarteners shouldn’t spend more than half an hour a day on homework, and the homework should reiterate the lessons that are taught in the classroom.

So, I’m off to read the kindergarten framework tonight (for my homework :p) and see which areas that we’re lacking and how to improve them. Are you reading this kindergarten framework too? Do you think it is useful?

Parent-Teacher Meeting 2011

I can’t believe how quickly two school terms have come and gone. Little Edison has almost completed half a year in school and the June school holiday is about to begin. No more dragging him out of bed, no more ironing of school uniforms and no more school hour rush in the morning – for one month! I really appreciate that, especially when I can sleep in for additional half an hour in the morning.

I met with his teachers yesterday during our first Parent-Teacher Meeting this year. His teacher, Mrs. Yu, handed to me his progress report and we spent the next 15 minutes reviewing it. I deeply appreciate the efforts from his teachers to compile the progress report that contains arts and worksheets that he did at school, pictures of him participating in various activities as well as development checklist.

Generally, Little Edison is progressing very well in the areas of language, maths and motor skills. His teacher was most impressed when he can recognize all the 26 letters, upper and lowercase, as well as their phonics sounds. He’s also good in word recognition. He can recognize the words “Monday” to “Sunday” and arrange them in order.

One thing that really took me by surprise in his progress report is that he can write his own name. I didn’t even know that! Apparently, the students are taught to write their names on the worksheets as soon as they receive them. Well, I sure need him to demonstrate to me tonight.

The only area that he scored an average is creative expression, which is the use of music, movement, drama, or art to communicate. He doesn’t really like singing, dancing and performances. We need to work together to nurture the creative side of him.

Overall, his level of independence has greatly improved too. I’m delighted to hear that he can do a lot of things by himself, like going to the toilet, wash his hands, eat his breakfast, take off his shoes and put them on, listen to instructions and obey rules.

I must say that I’m very thankful to the patience and care that the teachers have given to my boy. The kindergarten is well run and it has a very positive and friendly learning environment. Last but not least, we’re also appreciative of the school’s efforts to keep us informed on the latest developments in school via circulars.

 

Childcare or Kindergarten

Young ParentsIn order to clear my doubts on preschool education, I get myself a copy of Preschool Guide (Vol. 6 2008/2009) published by Young Parents.

In this guide, there is a comprehensive listing of kindergartens and childcare centers in Singapore.

Some of the useful topics featured in this guide include ways to determine whether our kids are ready for preschool, the search for a kindy/childcare and the critical life skills that our kids need besides IQ.

From what I understand from this guide and the MOE & MCYS websites, these are the major differences between a kindergarten and a childcare.

 Kindergarten

  • Operates 5 days a week with 2 sessions of 3-4 hours each, with one-week term break after the first and third terms, a four-week mid-year vacation and a six-week year-end vacation.
  • Registered with Ministry of Education (MOE).
  • Generally, only snacks are served due to shorter amount of time spent.
  • Lesser routine care as compared to childcare.
  • Teacher-Student Ratio (by MOE)
    Nursery (3-4y/o): 1:15
    K1 (5y/o): 1:20
    K2 (6y/o): 1:25
  • Can use Baby Bonus on approved institutions.
  • No subsidy.

Childcare

  • Operates 5.5 days a week (Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat 7am-2pm) throughout the year, with 5 scheduled off-days per year.
  • Registered with Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports (MCYS).
  • Meals and snacks are served.
  • Extensive routine care due to longer amount of time spent. Routine care includes showers, naps and attending to the children’s daily needs.
  • Teacher-Student Ratio (by MCYS)
    Playgroup/Nursery (18 – 30mths): 1:8
    Nursery 1 (30mths – 3y/o): 1:12
    Nursery 2 (3-4 y/o): 1:15
    K1 & K2 (5-6 y/o): 1:25
  • Can use Baby Bonus on approved institutions.
  • Childcare subsidy is available to Singapore Citizen children.

I hope this preschool guide will be helpful to you too! Check it out. 🙂